Industry Spotlight: Tourism

By Kriyana Reddy, Research Associate

Iran may not be high on most Americans' lists of top tourist destinations, but the tourism industry there has been doing quite well.  Home to a rich cultural and historical heritage, Iran contains architectural remnants that date back over 2000 years with 19 major archaeological sites having been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  After implementation of the JCPOA, the number of tourists visiting in Iran rapidly increased, with Iran currently generating some $8 billion from tourism.  The country expects that number to jump to $30 billion by 2025, with nearly 20 million tourists visiting annually and providing over 1.9 million Iranian jobs.

Whereas the tourism industry at large appears to be growing, certain cultural elements of US-Iranian relations continue to discourage American tourists from visiting the country. Polls indicate that public opinion of Iran remains stagnant—a mere 14 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Iran, the same percentage as before the nuclear deal. The global picture is not much better: Roughly 58 percent of the nations surveyed by Pew viewed Iran unfavorably. On the other hand, the perception that Iranians have of tourists from other countries is much different. Steve Kutay, founder of Iran Luxury Travel, says, “One of the biggest surprises about Iran is that they love Americans…they want to have their picture taken with you and invite you to eat.”

This welcoming attitude by Iranians also extends to sharing homes and beds. In the past few years, roughly 36,000 Iranians have come to offer free lodging to tourists as a medium of exchanging good experiences and knowledge of Iranian culture. Increasing public openness in Iran combined with modern tourism trends such as ecotourism indicates that Iran holds big potential as a tourism hotspot.

The Iranian government is pushing for an expansion of the tourism industry. Last summer, it allowed for citizens of 190 countries to receive 30-day visas upon arrival.  The Rouhani administration has also signed tourist exchange agreements with various countries, including Russia.  One subsection of the tourism industry that will be benefiting from this government push is the construction of more luxury accomodation. With a shortage of hotels, and many in need of renovation, Iran says 125 new four and five star hotels are currently under construction.  Foreign investors are involved in this construction boom, including Europe's largest hotel group Accor and UAE-based Rotana.  German-based InterCity Hotels Group recently reached an agreement with the Iranian government to build 10 new luxury hotels over the next decade.

Below is information about an upcoming conference in Tehran, Iran, the 10th International Exhibition of Tourism & Related Industry. The conference will host numerous companies and firms that facilitate tourism in Iran. 



The 10th International Exhibition of Tourism & Related Industry



Tehran International Permanent Fairground – Tehran, Iran



February 6–9, 2017


Additional Details:

The conference is free of charge. More information on the event can be found here.